Jenna Dooley

Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield.  For 2012, she was named "Newsfinder of the Year" by the Illinois Associated Press. She is also recipient of the 2014 Donald R. Grubb NIU Journalism Alumni Award. She is not afraid to brag at parties that she has met Carl Kasell, Ira Glass, and Garrison Keillor (and has pictures to prove it!) She is the former Recording Secretary for the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

The question of whether the bald eagle population is dwindling in the Midwest continues to confound bird watchers along the Mississippi River.

The organizer behind an annual winter count conducted in January by hundreds of volunteers revealed fewer young eagles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains that the bald eagle recovery is progressing at an “impressive” rate.

WNIJ continues to review important races in the upcoming Illinois Primary Election on March 20. So far, we’ve outlined the crowded races for Illinois Governor and Attorney General. On this week’s Friday Forum, we outline the rest of the statewide offices appearing on the ballot. They include Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Comptroller.

An Illinois man behind a longstanding bald eagle count says the latest numbers are alarming. Federal officials say there may be other factors at play.

Chicago Tribune: Bald Eagles Came Back From Brink, But Are Numbers Dropping Again? An Illinois Researcher Fears So

Southern Baptist minister Billy Graham died at the age of 99 today.  He was well known for the scope of his ministries, as well as providing spiritual counsel to several U.S. Presidents. His alma mater, Wheaton College, opened the Billy Graham Center in 1981. Executive Director Dr. Ed Stetzer says Graham will be difficult to match theologically.

A northern Illinois coroner is growing increasingly worried about the breakdown of drugs related to overdose deaths.

According to Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz, 124 deaths were attributed to drug overdose last year compared with 96 in 2016.

Of those, he says there was a noticeable increase in deaths involving fentanyl with seven in 2016 and 63 in 2017. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which the Drug Enforcement Administration says is 50 times more potent than heroin.

Northern Illinois University

A decade has passed since five Northern Illinois University students were killed by a gunman in a lecture hall. 

Every year on February 14th, the bell tower on NIU’s DeKalb campus tolls five times at 3:06 p.m. to remember the lives lost on that day in 2008. This year, a few more events in addition to the annual wreath-laying at the memorial outside of Cole Hall are planned to observe the tenth anniversary of the shooting. 

Plans for a passenger train linking Chicago and Iowa were sidetracked several years ago, but that hasn’t slowed efforts by some passionate rail enthusiasts to keep the vision alive.

Amtrak operated the Black Hawk line from 1974 to 1981. Before that, there was the Land O’Corn route between Chicago and Waterloo, Iowa, but that ended in the 1960s.

The ground may be frozen in parts of Illinois, but it’s not too early to start thinking about this year's garden.

National Seed Swap Day is held the last Saturday of January.

These gatherings are a way for new and veteran green thumbs to expand their collections by sharing a variety of open-pollinated seeds. Pam Stock, with the Boone County Conservation District, is also an avid seed saver.

A group of Illinois lawmakers will exploring the potential benefits to the state in using “blockchain” technology developed for cybercurrency. 

The value of the digital currency Bitcoin has been volatile during its existence so far, but its blockchain backbone could have other uses for the state. Blockchains are encrypted ledgers of transactions that can be shared.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, will chair a new cryptocurrency subcommittee.

The Northern Illinois University student newspaper will begin receiving student fees in order to save the student-operated Northern Star. According to an editorial published this week, the newspaper received student fees prior to 1996 but opted out due to its financial position at that time.

The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Batman: The Dark Knight, are known for including scenes from some of Chicago's most iconic landmarks, but it's the small screen where the state may reap the largest benefits in the future.

The Illinois Film Office coordinates films, commercials, and television productions in the state.

Illinois Film Office Director Christine Dudley expects the rise of streaming services to increase overall productions in the state.

Rockford’s mayor is supporting an effort to return the city to home rule status.

Here’s an example: Since Rockford is not a home rule city, leaders can charge up to $50 in license fees for  video gaming in the city, and there are a lot. Home rule communities can charge into the thousands of dollars. That’s why some critics argue home rule can unfairly target business owners who may absorb extra taxes and fees.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been taking a victory lap for the new school funding formula at schools across the state. Such visits can be a low-stakes way for the state’s top politicians to interact with their youngest constituents.

Last month, Rauner took questions from several inquisitive students at Galapagos Charter School in Rockford.

Rauner: So do you have any questions for me?

Student: How much do you get paid?

A Northern Illinois University student created a website that maps out Illinois health care providers for immigrants, regardless of their status. Yosue Perez, an accounting major from Hanover Park, completed the project through the school's Summer Research Opportunities Program.

He says he has a personal interest in the topic.

DeKalb and Rochelle may be in the running for a massive new auto manufacturing plant. Toyota and Mazda announced they are teaming up to build a one-and-a-half billion dollar factory in the U.S., but didn’t specify the site.

State Representative Tom Demmer says he knows state and local economic development officials are working on a code-named project that meets the same specifications of the Toyota/Mazda plan. Demmer says he’s not surprised DeKalb and Rochelle are contenders:

It’s tick season in northern Illinois.

So far this year, there have been no confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Winnebago County. There were eight cases in 2016 and another seven in 2015. No deaths were associated with those confirmed cases.

Todd Marshall, director of environmental health in Winnebago County, says there have been reports of increased tick activity in northern Illinois

Earlier this year, NPR analyzed the length of wait times for veterans to get appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Over the next few days, you will hear a Midwestern perspective on a federal program trying to improve veterans care.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker recently announced a financial update as the campus continues to struggle with the effects of the statewide budget impasse. The student-run Northern Star newspaper recently reported on an area of the university's finances that doesn't get as much attention.

The Veterans’ and Military Discount Program was supposed to go into effect in 2015. According to the law, it is designed to connect veterans and active-duty service members with merchants who want to offer special discounts and promotions.

State auditors found the program didn't get off the ground.

Healthcare leaders are voicing concerns about the Republican repeal plan to the Affordable Care Act.

Democrat Dick Durbin is traveling the state to meet with those who would be affected by the House changes.

Tamir Hargana shared his gift of music with the residents of Oak Crest Retirement Center Tuesday afternoon in DeKalb.

Hargana says the public concert was in appreciation for financial support from the Lester K. Smith scholarship fund to continue his studies in DeKalb.

The Northern Illinois University graduate student previously attended Inner Mongolia University Arts College, specializing in Mongolian throat singing and the horse head fiddle.

Flickr Creative Commons/Sholeh

Public colleges and universities in Illinois will have the option of imposing pay cuts in the form of furloughs on employees, under a rule approved earlier today.  Jeff Brownfield, director of an organization representing civil service employees, fielded questions from a trio of lawmakers all asking the same thing: What about the labor unions? After the meeting Brownfield repeated his answer.

Illinois House Democrats lost their supermajority this election. That change means they lose the ability to override a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, says the outcome of Tuesday’s election may not hit the party as hard as some observers may expect.

A leading addiction treatment advocate says service providers have a role in the next presidential term.

Marvin Ventrell is the Executive Director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. He served as keynote at the annual Rosecrance Forum on Thursday. Rosecrance offers addiction services for teens and adults at more than 40 locations in Chicago and Northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

With just weeks to go, much attention is given to the 2016 presidential election in the United States. But a look back in time reveals some topics were very similar on the road to the White House in 1960.

On Oct. 25, 1959, then-Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy visited a luncheon rally of Democratic committeemen in DeKalb County. Later, he made remarks before more than a thousand people at the Egyptian Theater in downtown DeKalb.

Video gaming machines have been popping up in Illinois bars and restaurants for nearly four years. For the most part, the increase in gaming machines and in revenue across the state has been steady.

Database: Check revenue reports in your community

Vu Nguyen / Flickr

Illinois State Police go through annual first responder training including the use of CPR, overdose reversal drugs, and now epinephrine auto-injectors. Those are used to treat severe allergic reactions. Master Sergeant Matt Boerwinkle says together these can help officers react before a full medical team can arrive to the scene.

“Those are all steps that increase an individual’s chances of surviving an incident. We want our troopers to have the best training and knowledge and readiness in that area.” -ISP Master Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle

torbakhopper / Flickr

The number of overdose-related deaths in Illinois could be higher were it not for drugs that can save a person from opioid abuse. But that is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. Illinois Public Radio's Jenna Dooley looks at some of the resources to help those who are battling addiction.


The Illinois comptroller met with leaders of Rockford-area nonprofit organizations on Wednesday to talk about the state budget impasse and its effect on human services. Leslie Munger says the situation in Springfield is an inherited problem that can't be solved by taxes alone.

Jack McCullough's conviction in  the 1957 murder of a Sycamore girl has been vacated and he has been ordered released from custody on his own recognizance.

McCullough, 76, has been jailed in some fashion since he was arrested in his Seattle-area home in July 2011. He has been serving a life sentence in the Pontiac Correctional Center. He is required to remain in Illinois as part of the release order.